Florida Trend

Who Did the Dirty Work in Broward? The Answer Shouldn't Surprise You

Let's go back to 2002.

It was the year that Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Monster's Ball, the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl, and then-state Rep. Roger Wishner (and current Sunrise mayor) criticized the North Broward Hospital District and got on the wrong side of then-NBHD general counsel Bill Scherer.

So what did Scherer do? He propped up a Democrat named Franklin Sands to run against Wishner and got the political machine he ran at the public health system to finance tens of thousands of dollars in contributions for Sands. The money came from doctors and lawyers; Scherer and his own family members contributed about $3,000. Dr. Sein Lwin, a Burmese native who operated as something of a bagman for the political machine, was responsible for another $1,500 to Sands.

In early September 2002, a couple of months before Election Day, it was decided that all that money might not be enough. So a private detective, Ron Cacciatore, was hired to investigate claims that Wishner's medical waste company was improperly disposing of waste.

Scherer, however, didn't hire Cacciatore. Neither did Sands. To find out which then-unknown political operator was the front man for the dirty work, go to the jump. 

Hint: The guy stiffed Cacciatore on the bill.

Rothstein whooping it up at fundraiser.
Rothstein whooping it up at fundraiser.

The answer, of course, is Scott Rothstein.

What people don't know is that Rothstein spent years as a bit of a do-boy for established power brokers in town like Scherer. That's one reason that Rothstein once called Scherer his "mentor." He wasn't lying about that.

Anyway, Rothstein was officially named as Cacciatore's client in the Wishner investigation. Cacciatore found some evidence against Wishner, but it was never used by the Sands campaign. When Cacciatore's billed Rothstein for the work -- it was about $2,000 -- the up-and-coming lawyer refused to pay.

Cacciatore, who is now the chief investigator at the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office, said he went to Sands for the money, who also refused to pay. He wouldn't discuss Scherer's role, but suffice it to say that Scherer didn't pay and certainly had no obligation to do so. Only one man owed that money: Scott Rothstein.

In the end Cacciatore filed a lawsuit against Rothstein for the money. His attorney in the suit was none other than Russell Adler, who would later become a named partner in Rothstein's Ponzi front law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

"Rothstein was the biggest deadbeat of any attorney I've ever worked with," said Cacciatore, who did other small jobs for the lawyer. "Every time I turned around I was having to try to get money out of him."

Cacciatore said he won a judgment against Rothstein in the Wishner-related lawsuit, but the lawyer still wouldn't pay. It was only a year later, in October 2003, that Rothstein paid the judgment after it threatened to hold up his purchase of his first $1.2 million home on Castilla Isle off Las Olas. Later Rothstein would buy several homes on the street, including one owned by Dolphins star Ricky Williams.

Rothstein ultimately got so big that he threatened Scherer's rule of the roost. Then came his fall. Who's capitalizing on that? Why of course Scherer, who is representing Rothstein fraud victims in a civil lawsuit that could produce a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars.

And that, folks, is what Broward Town is all about.

[Interesting footnote: Sands was recently devastated financially by a Ponzi scheme himself. Only it wasn't Rothstein's. The state rep was a big investor with Bernie Madoff.]


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